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Hanging your tools on the wall is in the past. They gather dust, oil oxidizes, and steel can rust (no matter what gauge or grade it is).
You should be storing your tools in a more suitable way, one that protects them from environmental harm.
Whether it’s made of aluminum, steel, or good ole plastic, these tools bins all offer the same thing: enhanced protection for the tools you use day in, day out.
If you want the best tool chest for your own needs, you first need to assess what those are.
You’re going to have to look at what you have in your tool kit right now, what you plan on buying in the not-so-distant future, and how much storage you’re going to need/how many containers you’re going to need to fill up your workspace, and keep everything under lock and key (literally).
We’ve given you the best of the best to choose from to make the process a bit easier, and provided answers to your burning questions further on in the guide.
Let’s start with the top five tool chests on the market today.
Best Tool Chest in 2021
WINNER: Craftsman 6 Drawer Heavy Duty Top Tool Chest
Who does it better than Craftsman? They’ve been one of the most time-tested tool brands out there, and they won the top spot for best tool cabinet, hands down.
First and foremost, you get untold weight capacity with over 900 pounds of durability. That’s thanks to the all steel construction with aluminum paneling on the front of your six compartments.
Let’s talk about those compartments. They’re all located on the front and they slide out easily, it’s just a matter of keeping them lubricated. Because you’re dealing with steel here, you’re going to notice when they start dragging upon sliding them back in. No problem, just some WD-40 and the problem is gone.
Thanks to the ball bearing sliders, your draws don’t jiggle around or rattle too much when you put them in, apart from whatever screws or washers you have sitting in one of these compartments.
So what’s the toss-up here? The trade-off?
It all comes down to the total amount of space you get. This isn’t designed for carpenters or people who want to stash an additional toolbox in an affixed position on the back of your truck: you’re going to be slightly limited here, so they’re certainly not rated for commercial use.
One more reason they’re not designed for commercial use is the density of those drawers. I know I mentioned that they were good, but if they were any larger, it would be easy to ding them as you put heavier tools in there. You don’t want it to endure too much wear and tear for sure.
This might arrive a bit dusty and with no plastic shields on the drawers, so a few scratches and dings have been recorded.
Overall, it’s a quality, inexpensive, durable solution for just about any homeowner looking for smarter, safer tool storage.
RUNNER UP: Rolling Tools Chest with Drawer
We’re bumping up the price a little bit, but for a lot more space and functionality. Intergreat makes this rolling tools chest with nine total compartments, giving you ample space for organizing screws, boxes of staples and framing nails, and a whole lot more.
But we’re here to store tools, right?
That’s where the bottom bins come into play. There’s more than enough room for drills, stud finders and additional small/medium-sized tools, plug you have a large storage container on the bottom for bulkier items.
These tool storage cabinets are awesome, and the plural is intentional, by the way. You don’t fully know which model you’re going to get, because if you look at the picture, there’s a few different models.
One of them comes with drawers on the top portion with no spacers in between, and one is just a series of drawers laying there (which can mitigate the total weight cap by the way, not that you’re likely to reach it).
It’s a bit up in the air. You can’t choose between one model or the other, so sometimes the top drawers are different. That being said, they’re still rated for over a thousand pounds, which is pretty impressive.
With a solid steel construction and rolling wheels, it’s built to last, and comes with a good amount of storage space. You can remove the drawer chest from the top to have a rolling workstation if you need it, maximizing your workshop space.
When you go to lift the chest of drawers off the top, I’m going to tell you now that the handles on the side dig into your palms. They’re very ridged, because they’re not the focal point of buying one of these, so they kind of fell by the wayside.
Even accounting for that minor oversight, it’s a rock solid choice for your garage or workshop.
ALTERNATIVE: Husky Five-Drawer Roller Cabinet and Tool Chest
Having a tool chest double as a rolling workbench is huge. You’re going to use this feature all the time, especially if you’re oiling tools or organizing screws/boxes of nails that you’re keeping in the drawers.
Overall, it’s really good and has a nice solid top, and the side handle is nice and simple to lug along if you need to move this.
You get five compartments in total, and they go from small to large in descending order, with the smallest being designed for loose screws and smaller items.
I wouldn’t say that the smaller drawer is really the most viable, because you can’t really fit many tools in here besides a few wrenches and other flat tools (some screwdriver handles were even too big to close in it).
But it made the list of best tools drawers through many other reasons, namely the largest compartment on the bottom, which can hold jigsaws and nailers with ease.
You can put this through its paces, because much like the Intergreat rolling tool chest that we just reviewed, it can hold up to 1,000 pounds without any trouble. That’s the beauty of solid steel construction.
You can take the wheels off to store this up on a shelf if you’d like, but keep in mind that it’s 121 pounds. I say this because the wheels can be a bit fidgety. They’re not terrible, but you will have to grease them more often than it would first seem.
They come kind of dry in the box, so you might want to get that WD-40 on it right away. Last but not least, this isn’t a cheap tool chest.
It’s designed to last for decades or longer with proper care, and features a smooth rolling, ball bearing shelf system that helps bear the weight of heavy loads when you pull the drawers out. It’s high-functioning, and the finish is fairly scratch resistant.
BEST FOR THE MONEY: Keter Modular Locking and Rolling Tool Chest
Now we’re going to get a bit more budget-friendly. It’s not an inexpensive purchase to get a new tool chest or tool box, but it also doesn’t have to feel like pulling teeth to get a good one, either.
Keter came out with this primarily plastic drawer system, which is immediately off-putting considering the weight of the tools you’ll be putting in, but we were all pleasantly surprised.
In our tool chest reviews, we expected the plastic to be brittle and easy to scuff or scratch. If you’re directly trying to create divots in this plastic with a screwdriver, then yeah, you’re going to be able to after some force, but the ABS plastic here is surprisingly durable and very sturdy.
It’s not quite the same as aluminum or steel in the other models we’ve tested, but it’s not bad by any stretch of the imagination. You get four compartments, one of which is that big drawer on the bottom that actually provides a good amount of space.
Thanks to the organizational system, you can use this for anchors and screws up top, and use the top of the work bench to maintain your tools or sort through things (or like me, it’ll end up being cluttered with stuff).
It’s kind of funny, but for a drawer with a lower weight capacity of 300 pounds, the wheels are actually some of the highest quality out of all the tool chests we’ve reviewed yet.
Yes, 300 pounds kind of sucks, but based on the dimensions and available capacity, it’s not going to be that noticeable, because I can’t see anyone storing 300 pounds of tools and materials inside of this. On top is a different story, of course.
So is it worth it?
You get 16 removable bins, save some money, and the frame weight is just 23.6 pounds compared to the 100+ of a lot of these other steel frames. That makes it perfect if you want to remove the wheels and put one or two of these along the back of your workbench for extra storage.
RUNNER UP: Keter Masterloader Portable ROLLING Tool Organizer
I don’t know how this is about half the price of the other Keter and has more of a maximum weight capacity, but that’s how they made it, and we love them for it.
This rolling tool chest and organizer has a set of heavy duty rubber wheels that can be dragged through the muck and over the unfinished concrete in the garage, and helps to add some stability when you’re trying to organize this chest.
To be fully transparent, this is worth the cost, because Keter isn’t charging all that much for it, but it’s not the last tool chest you’re ever going to buy.
If you do a lot of work around the house though, this is far more convenient than repeatedly going back to your garage or workshop to retrieve tools that you thought you would initially need (I’m not the only one who does that, right?).
It works like a low tackle box with pop-up shelves, and organizers for screws and other small materials.
You’ve got your large storage in the bottom, which can hold a drill and saw with ease, as well as some smaller screwdrivers and wrenches alongside it. I would get this with the idea that it will be like a home repair workstation on wheels.
This is made out of a resin plastic, and if you know anything about plastic, then you’ll know that it’s not the most durable type. ABS is arguably stronger, so this isn’t a tool chest that I would just whip my electric sander into like it’s no big deal.
The edges are prone to chipping and cracking if you aren’t careful. It’s useful, it just won’t serve every purpose you need in a heavy duty tool chest.
Tool Chest Buying Guide & FAQ
What to Look for in a Tool Chest
What goes into the best tool box?
Well, we wanted to show you some of the key factors that we took into consideration while we did this entire review and guide. Here they are.
Steel, aluminum, plastic—they can all be viable, if they’re built tough enough. The material matters because of a few reasons, and one of which is weight.
These rolling steel chests are heavy, like over one-hundred pounds, and that makes it extra difficult to position them in affixed positions.
If you’re going to take the wheels off of your tool chest and position it on a shelf or the back of your workbench/table, the material and its weight will make a big difference in how much you can store.
Most tables aren’t going to support two of these, plus tools, plus materials in whatever project it is that you’re doing.
Max Load Weight
The good thing is, this doesn’t matter a whole ton. Yes, your tools and boxes of screws can be heavy when combined, but I don’t know anyone who has overloaded a tool chest.
Not once. Most of these can hold a thousand pounds, and even the plastic ones start around 300 lbs for a relatively small interior capacity, so I think you’re good either way.
How much stuff can you really put in here?
I’m willing to bet that you have enough tools that you need a ton of space, so this is something you can’t really hold back on. Your collection is going to grow, and it’s going to need a home inside of your tool chest.
Capacity is directly going to dictate how well you’re able to organize your tool chest, because without enough room, it’s just going to be a jam sandwich in there—everything will be on top of one another, and you don’t want that.
Ease of Use
Is it easy to roll out, pop open or access?
Even a little bit?
You don’t want to go to hell and back just to get your tools out, otherwise—and trust me on this—you’re just going to have a big pile of tools and parts on top of your tool chest instead of inside the drawers.
Ease of use matters, so look for big storage and ball bearing shelves.
What Are Some of the Best Chest Brands?
You have Craftsman, Husky, Rubbermaid, Stanley, Excel, Keter, Intergreat, and even WEN.
They all provide some of the best tool storage you can get, but on these lists, we like to keep it to an elite five to really show you the most competitively awesome tool chests out there.
In our opinion, Craftsman is the most affordable and reliable of the bunch, which is another reason that they topped the list.
You’d be lucky to be a customer of any of those brands I mentioned (yes, even Rubbermaid), so there’s no pressure to specifically go with one over the other. It just depends on how much you value your tools.
What is the Best Tool Chest to Buy?
It all depends on your needs. If you want maneuverability, the Keter Masterloader is your best bet, but it has minimal storage. If maximum storage is your ideal buying condition, Intergreat’s rolling tool chest is probably the way to go.
We looked at the best budget tool chest, and the best top-end tool chests, all so that you can take a look at the comparison, night-and-day differences between them. What works best for you?
We topped this list with the Craftsman tool chest because it hit a lot of those points in the middle, and remains one of the most popular, middle-of-the-road tool chests on the market today.
We don’t expect them to fall from grace anytime soon.
How do I Clean and Maintain a Tool Chest?
You want to avoid abrasive chemicals, whether you’re dealing with plastic or steel/aluminum bins. While it’s not going to eat through it like acid or anything intense like that, it can remove the luster of your tool chests.
For plastic, there are different types that will react differently to various chemicals. While your Lysol spray or Spic and Span isn’t designed to eat through the world’s more abundant material—being plastic—specific tool cleaners could be more abrasive, since they’re designed to clean metal, not plastic.
The best thing you can do is remove all of the drawers after emptying them, and assess the situation. Look at the tracks on the inside, the ball bearings, and check for excessive dust.
Dust buildup over time can cause oil to clump up, which can then jam up the ball bearings, and make it super difficult to close your tool chest. Even worse, it could actually cause you to close the drawer too hard if it isn’t budging, and bend the metal. Not what you want to do.
After checking for oil on the track and ball bearings, you’re going to want to dust and re-oil anything that you can. Clean the actual drawer tracks as well as what’s inside of the chest chassis.
Take a dry rag, preferably microfiber, and clear out the dust beds in the bottom of the chest and cabinets, as well as the interior of the drawers that you pulled out. There’s bound to be a bit of dust in there, and you don’t want it impacting the oil on your metal tools in the future, either.
Most tool chests have wheels, even that Keter Masterloader that we reviewed at the end. Check the wheels for wear and tear.
Since most wheels for these are going to be made out of rubber, look for tears in the wheels, divots, and if they need to be greased. You already have the WD-40 out, you’d might as well take a look-see.
Reassemble your drawers and give a quick wipe down to the top. If you’ve been using it as a workstation, as many folks do, make sure there are no dents to buff out.
This area is going to take the brunt of the impact from using this tool chest, so some scratches are bound to happen from time to time.
Better Storage, More Organization
Storing your tools properly is everything.
It dictates how long your tools last, how quickly they will rust, how well they perform, and their reliability (among other things).
You shouldn’t take the cheap or easy route when it comes to storing your tools, especially with any debris or oil that they might harbor. Do it right, and your tools will never fail you.